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Keeping mobile users safe during COVID-19

Fraud and security
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As sad as it is true, some will seek to take advantage even during a pandemic.

The issue of Smishing – phishing by SMS – is not new. For years, text messaging scams have been created to trick consumers into sending money or sharing their account details with fraudsters.

It’s an especially outrageous activity to undertake in the wake of COVID-19.

And it is not going unchallenged. In fact, Sinch and many others are fighting back.

Leading messaging providers, and the UK mobile, banking and finance industries along with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) have joined forces to prevent fraudsters sending scam text messages that seek to exploit the Covid-19 crisis.

The collaboration is part of an ongoing industry initiative by Mobile Ecosystem Forum, Mobile UK and UK Finance, supported by the NCSC, to help identify and block fraudulent SMS texts and protect messages from legitimate businesses and organizations.

As part of the cross-stakeholder trial, MEF has developed the SMS SenderID Protection Registry which allows organizations to register and protect the message headers used when sending text messages to their customers. The Registry limits the ability of fraudsters to send messages impersonating a brand by checking whether the sender is the genuine registered party.

Fifty bank and government brands are currently being protected through the trial with 172 trusted SenderIDs registered to date. Over 400 unauthorized variants are being blocked on an ever-growing blacklist, including 70 SenderIDs relating to the Government’s Coronavirus campaign.

Fourteen banks and government agencies including HMRC and DVLA are participating in the ongoing trial which is supported by BT/EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

In the last six months, the cross-stakeholder working group has seen a significant drop in fraudulent messages being sent to the UK consumers of the participating merchants.

As we all know, this is not the time for anyone to let their guard down. Through innovation and commitment, Sinch has always looked out for its clients and their customers. That is one more thing that won’t change during the pandemic.